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An Introduction to Practical Programming

The purpose of this article is to introduce a tutorial series meant to help one be able to get started in their programming adventures with something practical, that they may be able to start developing for clients while still learning.

Why Make this Series

Recent events in my life have made me start to contemplate, what exactly do most people end up doing when programming? What drives someone to start down this path? Why do people end up working on projects that become boring? What can make it more exciting? What are the qualities I look for in a colleague? At what point does one become too deep in theory to be practical? Does simply learning to program, or solve a complex mathematical problem teach one what it will be like to work in a business? In this series, I am hoping to teach the some programming skills while answering a few of these questions as well.

The Reality of Programming

The Basic Job

A programmers job is to help solve a problem or find a more efficient way to do something.

More than likely, when you first start out in the business world you will not be given new and exciting challenges every day. Most businesses want to make money, and to do so require data in different ways. In fact, one can expect normal life to consist of at least one of the following.

  • Gathering Data
  • Processing Data
  • Analyzing Data
  • Displaying Data

At the most abstract, this can even be said of video games as inputs (keyboard, mouse, controller) are a form of data, which is then processed, analyzed with other data, and displays the data as game items, characters, or events.

The Lifestyle

Technology is always changing, and as such to do well one must have an attitude of continuous learning. You should experience times when you look at old code and think, "Did I really write this?" At the same time, however, you must be willing to forge forward with what you do know in order to actually get something done.

Depending upon the company you work for, there will be various levels of review and opportunities to learn through review. As the skills to search the web for already existing solutions mature, you will learn to evaluate if an existing solution should be brought in, or if this is truly a new problem worth solving. When an interesting new problem does come up, there will be a lot of mental work and (hopefully) collaboration to come up with a good solution. Some days, you may suddenly realize that the problem being addressed is not the real problem, and you will hopefully be able to address this, saving the company even more time and money.

One of the initial hardest parts of the job can be recognizing when you need to simply pump something out, or when you need to take a small break and look at something else for a little while to allow a faster to implement solution to appear with a fresh brain and perspective. Sometimes, you may not have the luxury of this if you are on call, but you can hopefully start creating a solution to make certain that the reason you were called never happens again along with whatever led to it. Basically - the life of a programmer is a life of learning, analyzing, and implementing ideas in a practical way.


The practical programming series is a series to introduce, through a practical means, people to programming. It involves tasks, scenarios, and tools used daily by a programmer, in addition to learning the actual code through immersion.

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Tags: Practical Programming, Introduction

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